WHO convenes emergency meeting after Ebola spreads to Uganda

WHO convenes emergency meeting after Ebola spreads to Uganda

Uganda Ebola
Uganda has been preparing for possible cases after experiencing outbreaks in the past, most recently in 2012, while in 2000 more than 200 people died in an outbreak in the north. (AFP/Isaac Kasamani)

GENEVA: The World Health Organization said on Wednesday (Jun 12) that a key emergency committee would meet following confirmation that an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had spread to neighbouring Uganda.

The panel will meet on Friday to determine whether to declare the outbreak "a public health emergency of international concern", a major shift in mobilisation against the disease, it said.

The outbreak declared in August has recorded more than 2,000 Ebola cases in eastern DRC, two-thirds of them fatal.

WHO's emergency committee had in October and again in April held off declaring the DRC epidemic an emergency of international concern, in part because the virus remained contained in one part of DRC.

For the committee to make the emergency call, it must determine that the epidemic "carries implications for public health beyond the affected State's national border and may require immediate international action", according to WHO.

READ: Boy dies of Ebola in Uganda as virus spreads from DR Congo


Uganda on Wednesday confirmed that three cases been recorded in the west of the country, including that of a five-year-old boy who had died, with two of his family members also testing positive for the virus after a visit to neighbouring DRC.

The health ministry previously said on Tuesday that a woman of Congolese origin, who is married to a Ugandan, had gone with her child and four other family members to take care of her father in the DRC, who later died of Ebola.

Ebola Graphic
Factfile on how the Ebola virus attacks. (AFP/John Saeki/Adrian Leung)

Ebola is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads among humans through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person.

The outbreak is the 10th in the DRC since the disease was identified in 1976.

It is the worst on record after an epidemic that struck Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone between 2014-2016, leaving more than 11,300 people dead.

Source: AFP/jt